WHAT’S IN A NAME? – THE STORY OF ABELTA
For those of you regularly attending, I’m sure you already know that teachers’ conferences are much more than just a list of workshops any fancy names. In fact, last year’s annual IATEFL Slovenia conference saw the initiation of a project which quickly became recognizable among English language teachers in the region. The idea that we at IATEFL Slovenia had for quite some time was to bring together representatives from the TAs and brainstorm ideas about where we could go with the project. Since we already met our friends regularly at regional conferences, we thought we might take our friendship to the next level. This is when ABELTA (Alliance of Balkan English Language Teaching Associations) was born.
Last year, thanks to the generous help from RELO Budapest and US Embassy Ljubljana, we had a first meeting of representatives from Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Macedonia and Montenegro. The representatives were chosen based on their TA presidents’ suggestions, as being most up to the task and most likely to pass the acquired knowledge back to their organisation. It was inspiring to see teachers getting together to talk about the challenges each TA faces in working with members, offering quality service and trying to survive financially with little or no help from the country’s Ministry of Education.
For me personally, it was another proof that the world of ELT operates beyond borders, visas and, as we are sadly witnessing recently, the barbed/razor wires.
As main organizers of the meeting and one of the TAs with most experience, we offered teachers advice on TA management and events organizing, but we all agreed that as teachers, we weren’t actually trained to deal with funds, accounting, organizational factors – in short everything that needs to be done within any organization (state funded or not) to operate smoothly.
Since as teachers we often lack time and energy to focus on different tasks individually, we concluded that having one place to get together fast and swiftly was, of course, the internet. For the time being, we decided to set up an ABELTA Facebook page where members from regional TAs could get together, share ideas, ask questions, and also post their newsletters for other members to see.
This year’s meeting is a follow up on what has been worked on last year, a much needed gathering which will, hopefully, give boost to our cooperation and result in future projects which will only strengthen the friendship.
ABELTA is still an infant which needs help growing, but with an opened heart and proper approach, we can witness its growth for many years to come.